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Back to the Read Option?

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Taking a look at why the Redskins should at least make the read option a part of their offense.

Patrick Smith

In the Washington Redskins season opening loss to the Houston Texans, Robert Griffin III ran the ball three times for two yards. Griffin was also hit by the Texans defense 14 times in the loss.  Ryan Fitzpatrick was only hit four times by a Redskins pass rush that is supposed to be the strength of the defense.

For Griffin this presents a damned if you do damned if you don't scenario. The third year pro was criticized for taking too many unnecessary hits while running the read option his first two years in the NFL, which resulted in the firing of Mike Shanahan and hiring of Jay Gruden who is determined to make Griffin more of a traditional pocket passer.

Let me make this clear from the start, I do not think the Redskins should go back to an offense that is heavily dependent on Griffin running the read option. However, with that being said, I do believe the Redskins should return the read option as a wrinkle of the offense.

The read option makes a lot of sense for the Redskins for multiple reasons. Right off the bat, you have to consider than the Redskins have one of the most physically gifted quarterbacks in the league in Griffin who possesses the skill set to run the read option perfectly. Secondly, and more importantly, the read option forces defenses to sit back and read the play for an extra half second before attacking the ball. This extra half second will do wonders in masking the ineffectiveness of the offensive line in front of Griffin that was absolutely dominated by the Texans (much like it did in 2012).

The read option doesn't have to put the quarterback in harms way, if you don't believe me watch any Seattle Seahawks game. If the one slide we saw from Griffin last Sunday is any indication he is improving his ability to get down properly (it was a beautiful slide), which will help him avoid unnecessary hits while running the read option as well as when he scrambles.

There is no doubt in my mind that if Griffin wants to be "the greatest" and win Super Bowls like he says he does that he will develop into more of a pocket passer while not abandoning his legs completely, and hurting the defense with his running ability when the opportunity presents itself (much like Aaron Rodgers). However, until Griffin becomes a more polished pocket passer, or until the Redskins can field an offensive line that can create an actual pocket for Griffin to be comfortable in, Jay Gruden should at the very least make the read option a portion of the offense.

The read option isn't limited to Griffin running or pitching the ball either, Seattle ran a beautiful play against Green Bay where Russell Wilson appeared to be running the read option with running back Marshawn Lynch only to pull the ball back and toss the ball over the defender pursuing the running play to a wide open receiver. I can't help but think that an offensive mind like Jay Gruden couldn't get creative in how he uses the read option to jump start this offense and put points on the board.

This offense has too many weapons to be scoring six points in a game.  Hell, the Skins should score more than six points in a quarter. If the read option is what it takes to give Griffin some more time to throw the ball, and give the offense it's swagger back, I don't see how Jay Gruden will not make it at least a small part of the offense, especially while Griffin continues to take a beating in the pocket behind a below average offensive line.

It will be an interesting thing to monitor throughout the season, but don't be surprised if you see a few read option plays this Sunday against Jacksonville.